Lingui, The Sacred Bonds

Lingui, meaning The Sacred Bonds, is a film about a woman seeking an abortion for her daughter in Chad where it is illegal.

A real feminist film about throwing off what’s been handed down from on high as the misogynistic status quo, and prioritising women’s wellbeing and relationships. Amina is a devout Muslim, going to mosque for every prayer, dressing modestly, and working hard turning old tyres into baskets. One day she finds out her only daughter, Maria, is pregnant.

Amina is herself a single mother, having been deeply in love with, but abandoned by, Maria’s father. Castigated and thrown out on her own by her family, to Amina her daughter is her only family, and her world.

So when she discovers her daughter is pregnant at 15, it’s like a nightmare come true, watching history repeat itself. At first she reacts like she’s been shown all her life, beating her daughter and scolding her for the shame she’s brought upon them. When Maria says she wants an abortion, Amina tells her it is forbidden in Islam.

But when it looks like she might lose her daughter for good, Amina realises what’s really important. She puts everything she has into getting her daughter an abortion. Her top priority is safety, but there is a cost. So scrambling for money becomes a night-and-day endeavour, taking her to places she never thought she’d go.

And in some ways, it changes her. Sometimes the worst happening is liberating. She finally stops putting all her strength and energy into winning at a game that is rigged against her from the start. When you finally let go off trying to live up to patriarchy’s impossible standards, it makes you realise how exhausted you’ve been this whole time.

Amina starts smoking, and doesn’t bother covering her hair, or showing up to mosque. She still prays, you can see her, but she prays with her heart looking out towards God. In some ways, it’s a sincerer form of religiosity than she had before.

Maria sees how much her mother is doing, to ensure she can get safe healthcare and return to school to study. Their relationship improves greatly, because they see their love for each other clearly. Amina is not trying to beat Maria down like she was, she is taking her daughter’s hand and liberating themselves together.

A wonderful story of a mother-daughter relationship, and about the power of women supporting each other.